CEO of the Year: Scott McComb Has Found His Own Path

Dave Ghose
Scott McComb, Chairman, President and CEO of Heartland Bank

Scott McComb, Chairman, President and CEO, Heartland Bank

About: Whitehall-based community bank with 15 full-service branches in central Ohio and more than $1 billion in assets

In Position: Since 2008

Previous: Chief operating officer, executive vice president and director of internet banking for Heartland; president of PFM Alert Systems

When he decided to join his father at Heartland Bank, Scott McComb knew he faced a challenge. His father, Tiney, was a central Ohio banking legend and the founder of the financial institution, whose small-business lending instincts helped launch the careers of restaurateur Cameron Mitchell and countless other entrepreneurs. Tiney started Heartland in 1988 with the purchase of little Croton Bank of Licking County and turned his new entity into one of the most admired community banks in Ohio. He cast a big shadow.

Tiney's mother, Helena, gave Scott some advice when he started at Heartland in 1999. “Don't try to be like your dad,” she told him. “Be yourself.” For the past two decades, that's what McComb has done—and it's proven a good strategy.

In 2008, McComb took over the leadership of the bank from his father. It couldn't have come at a more difficult time, just as the fiscal crisis was wreaking havoc in the financial industry. Yet Heartland grew even during the Great Recession and has remained on an upward trajectory since then, culminating with a watershed year in 2018. In March, the bank opened its new 60,000-square-foot headquarters in Whitehall, creating a space for the company to grow. Then four months later, Heartland crossed the $1-billion-in-assets threshold. When McComb took over for his father, it had $530 million under management.

McComb, of course, has benefited from the foundation laid by his father. But the bank's recent success—a compounded annual growth rate of 12.1 percent over the past five years—also is the result of McComb's willingness to forge his own path. “Tiney was a great leader, but I think Scott is an even better leader than his father,” says Carrie Almendinger, Heartland's chief financial officer, who worked with both father and son.

Bob Palmer, CEO of the Community Bankers Association of Ohio, says the younger McComb is a nontraditional community banker. “And that's a good thing,” Palmer says. “He is very interested in creating opportunity for the bank, the employees of the bank and for his customers. He is a very high-level visionary.” Palmer praises McComb for his aggressive push toward online and mobile banking and payment systems and offering unusual services for a community bank, such as small-business consulting and financial planning. “I've never seen a guy more hungry for information,” Palmer says. “He seems to be a sponge most of the time, absorbing people's ideas and hearing other opinions.”

That approach is different than his father's. Tiney McComb was from the old school. He could be a micromanager and a harsh boss, occasionally dressing down staffers in front of employees. As a result, Scott says his father didn't grow top-notch, high-performing teams. Scott is more supportive and collaborative. “What I've chosen to do is find quality people, pay them well and let them run,” McComb says. If the CEO makes every decision, “You're going to be a small business forever,” McComb says.

And Heartland isn't. Though it's miniscule in comparison to trillion-dollar banking behemoths like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, Heartland is becoming a bigger player in central Ohio's business world every day, financing a big portion of the $40 million Lincoln high-rise under construction in the Short North, for instance.

Yet McComb says he's still proud to call himself a community banker, and he has no plans to give up his father's foundational values—risk mitigation, accessibility to customers, community engagement—as Heartland grows. Or even the ubiquitous Heartland radio jingle—“where banking feels good”—that he and his father, who died in 2012, wrote together. “I even look like him,” McComb says with a laugh. “The older I get, the more I look like him.”

Dave Ghose is the editor.


John Lowe, CEO, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

In 2009, John Lowe left his position at General Electric to grow an ice cream business with his friend Jeni Britton Bauer. Today, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is a national business with 1,200 employees.

Jeni's has 34 scoop shops across the U.S., ships ice cream to homes across the country and is available on the shelves of all Whole Foods Markets, Publix and more than 2,000 national retailers. Although John has appeared on Bloomberg, MSNBC and CNN, he generally remains behind the scenes. Beyond his role at Jeni's, Lowe is a board member for many local businesses and organizations, including White Castle, Columbus Chamber of Commerce; the Columbus chapter of Conscious Capitalism International, of which he is a founding member; and is a member of the advisory board for Watershed Distillery and Acre Farm-to-Table To-Go.

Lowe is a graduate of GE's Manager Development Course, the Human Performance Institute's Corporate Athlete training program and Harvard Business School's Young American Leaders Program. Lowe has a bachelor's degree in political science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and law degree from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Matt Scantland, CEO and Co-Founder, CoverMyMeds

Matt Scantland started his company in 2008 with co-founder Sam Rajan to help people get the medications they need. Now, CoverMyMeds is the nation's largest electronic prior authorization platform, having been sold in 2017 for $1.1 billion to drug distributor McKesson—the largest tech company sale ever in Ohio. Not only beneficial to the company, the sale was seen as a win by Columbus' tech community.

CoverMyMeds is still rapidly growing. Scantland brings his technology know-how to the business, along with his experience in developing tech products. Before CoverMyMeds, Scantland was the co-founder and president of a software development company in Columbus that served large healthcare companies.

In addition to leading CoverMyMeds, Scantland is an active member of the Columbus community as a member of the Columbus Partnership; a trustee for the Wellington School; co-founder of the Columbus Museum of Art's CMA Council, which focuses on bringing educational and philanthropic opportunities to the next generation of museum supporters; and an advisor of Ohio State University's Erdos Institute, a collaborative research organization.

Cindy Monroe, Founder, President and CEO, Thirty-One Gifts

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Now, the company is one of the largest direct-selling companies in the world. Thirty-One has more than 1,000 employees and more than 70,000 independent sales consultants in both the U.S. and Canada. In 2012, Monroe founded Thirty-One Gives, to support girls, women and families by funding nonprofits aligned with the mission. To date, it hasdonated more than $100 million in product and cash. In 2018, Thirty-One Gifts announced plans to relocate its headquarters from the Easton area to the former Bob Evans campus in New Albany.

Thirty-One has been named the largest woman-owned and third-largest family-owned business in central Ohio, and in 2014 it was named the Fastest-Growing Woman-Owned Company in the World, and Monroe was named a “Self-Made Woman to Watch” by Forbes magazine. She was also twice named Most Influential Women in Direct Selling. Monroe serves as an advisory board member of The Salvation Army of Central Ohio.